Number 534 Poem


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Number 534

For ages you were rock, far below light,
Crushed, without shape, the earth's unguarded bone.
Then Man in all the marvel of his might
Quarried you out and burned you from the stone.

Then, being pured to essence, you were nought
But weight and hardness, body without nerve;
Then Man in all the marvel of his thought,
Smithed you into forn of leap and curve;

And took you, so, and bent you to his vast,
Intense great world of passionate design,
Curve after changing curve, braced and masst
To stand all tumult that can tumble brine,

And left you, this, a rampart of a ship,
Long as a street and lofty as a tower,
Ready to glide in thunder from the slip
And shear the sea with majesty of power.

I long to see you leaping to the urge
Of the great engines, rolling as you go,
Parting the seas in sunder in a surge,
Shredding a trackway like a mile of snow

With all the wester streaming from your hull
And all gear tranging shrilly as you race,
And effortless above your stern a gull
Leaning upon the blast and keeping place.

May shipwreck and collision, fog and fire,
Rock, shoal and other evils of the sea,
Be kept from you; and may the heart's desire
Of those who speed your launching come to be.

By John Masefield

(This poem was written in 1936 by British Poet Laureate, John Masefield, to commemorate the launch of Great Britain's greatest ocean liner)


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